Great Wall of China

There are many places where tourists can explore the Great Wall of China. The Badaling location is one of the most popular. Our guide dropped us off in front of a local hotel and told us the time we needed to meet. We were told that if we really moved fast, we could make it to Tower 5. The locals say that "real men" should be able to make it that far. With that in mind, Annette, Arrion, and Flat started up the hill to the Great Wall.



The Great Wall entrance area is like an amusement park complete with shops and modern ticket counters. We fell in step behind tourists from around the world.  



The walkway on top of the Wall is about 10-12 feet wide in most places. We quickly walked up the ramps and steps past the first couple towers. At each tower, we stopped to look out the rock windows to the see the wall running for miles in each direction.

As the walk became steeper, we started to slow down and a few people began to turn around and head back down the walkway. At one point the stairs become very steep and Flat started to get a little nervous about the heights. He was determined to make it to the fifth Tower, so he stared straight ahead and kept moving.

When we made stops to take photographs, we often smiled at the other tourists. They often wanted to have their pictures taken with Western tourists. Many times they wanted their children to be in the photographs. The kids all enjoyed meeting Flat, but some wondered why Flat wanted to visit these places.




We were all very excited to reach the fifth Tower. It was hard to imagine that there are thousands of these towers along the Wall. Flat wanted to be sure he had his picture taken. It was pretty windy, so we had to hold him tight so he wouldn't blow away.

As we looked over the edge of the Wall we noticed that maintenance workers were walking along the base of the wall cleaning up trash.

On the way back down the wall we took more time to enjoy the views. It was interesting to go from the very crowded city to this mountainous area. Other than the tourists at the wall, the mountains looked empty in every direction.



The Great Wall is thousands of miles long. Most of the walls currently visible are from the 15th century. Many miles of the wall are now in ruins. Only a few areas have been reconstructed or restored for tourists. We asked our tour guide if anyone ever hiked along the entire length of the wall. He said that most Chinese would think that was a silly activity. However he had heard about many Europeans and Americans who had backpacked along the Great Wall.

We thought it was funny how many tourist traps could be found along the wall. People could get their photograph taken with a horse or sitting on a camel. One photographer provided costumes so tourists could dress as emperors and have their picture taken on a great throne. Vendors also offered certificates in many languages stating that the traveler had "climbed the great wall." A few artists were selling their sketches and paintings.

As we walked down the wall we listened for different languages. We hear people speaking Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German, Spanish, and many other languages that we couldn't identify.



Flat met lots of new friends on the way down the wall. Many children were on vacation and smiled when they met Flat. We couldn't speak very much Chinese, so we didn't spend much time talking. Instead we used the international signs of friends such as smiles, bows, and nods.

By the time we reached the bottom of the wall, it was time to meet in the hotel cafe so we could head back to Beijing.

Before leaving, we spent some time exploring all the small shops. Many of the shops had the same items such as shirts and scarfs. We did some bartering and got good prices on Great Wall sweatshirts.


Our trip to the Great Wall was one of the highlights of our trip. It gave us the chance to visit one of the most famous places in the world and also gave us a sense for life outside the busy city.

For more information about the Great Wall of China and other walls, check 42explore: Walls. Or, check these websites:

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Developed by Annette Lamb, 2/03.